In the annals of Black history in the state of Colorado, late Boulder native Dr. Ruth Cave Flowers commands a lofty space. She was the one of the first African-American women to graduate from the University of Colorado.
CU’s first Black female graduate was Lucile Berkeley Buchanan, a fact revealed in the early 90’s.
Ruth Cave, born in 1902 and raised until the age of 15 in Colorado Springs, followed in Buchanan’s footsteps ultimately enjoying a celebrated career in education.
After losing her mother at 11, Cave was raised by her grandmother and eventually relocated to Boulder. Despite graduating from Boulder High School, Cave was refused her degree because of her race. Upon entering CU, Cave faced more bigotry including being denied food service, but the president, an opponent of the local Ku Klux Klan, supported her and found her a job.
While the West was thought to be a land of opportunity, Cave found her race and gender didn’t open doors despite her degree from CU. She traveled south to teach French and Latin at Claflin College in South Carolina, then returned to CU earning a master’s in French and Education. A move to Washington, D.C. to teach at Dunbar High School helped her while she attended the Robert H. Terrell Law School in the city.
Cave met fellow law student Harold Flowers and the pair wed, opening a practice together. But when their marriage ended in divorce, Cave and her son moved back to Boulder after she earned Ph.D from the Catholic University of America in 1951. Cave taught foreign languages at Fairview High School, becoming the first Black teacher in the Boulder Valley School District.
Some five decades later, Boulder High awarded her diploma and Cave settled into retirement while still providing education to the city’s youth.
Cave passed in 1980.
PHOTO: Public Domain
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